Fantasy football 2011 | NOTES: Injuries, more clarity, confusion in Week 2

In Week 2, some players returned to form while others, like Ryan Fitzpatrick, maintained their unexpected Week 1 form. But across the league injuries were the story as top players at each of the fantasy positions took serious hits.

Like I posted to my followers on Twitter, don’t take any of the injury reports that follow as gospel. This is being written before people get their MRIs and before unrevealed injuries are brought to light.

Before you trade/drop a player, make sure the team has released the official word.

Raiders-Bills

In my region, this was the switch-to game in the fleeting moments of the Jets blowout. What a great game to switch too.

The fantasy story lines were many. Jason Campbell went 23-33 for 323, 2 TDs and an INT. It helps when a potential stud receiver like Denarious Moore announces his presence with authority (5-146, and a sick, skilled TD catch). It also helps to have a beast like Darren McFadden in your backfield, 70+ yards rushing and receiving and a touchdown on the ground and through the air. He lost a fumble, but he’s a terrific talent.

Fitzpatrick continued to conjure memories of Jim Kelly and the K-Gun offense of the early 90s, throwing for 264 and 3 TDs. He found Scott Chandler again, so there’s that. He also threw in David Nelson‘s direction 13 times. Stevie Johnson had 14. Nelson turned it into 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

If Fitzpatrick and the Bills go big again next week. … Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an act of war (it is on in Buffalo).

Chiefs-Lions

The biggest story from Detroit was the likely season-ending injury for Jamaal Charles. All reports are saying it’s a torn ACL. MRI is today. In his stead: Dexter McCluster went 8-51 with four catches for minus-2 yards; Thomas Jones went 12-40-0 and LeRon McClain went 4-15, 2-12. All three of those backs could see some work. McCluster is the home run swing of the three… but McClain had a beast season in Baltimore a few years back.

I think Matt Stafford just threw another touchdown. … He finished with four and 294 yards. He targeted Nate Burleson the most, slinging it nine times to him. Burleson went 7-93-0. Titus Young also got some serious looks, turning seven targets into 5 catches and 89 yards.

Ravens-Titans

Not sure what the biggest shocker was here: The Ravens were a barely a shell of the team that destroyed the Steelers or Matt Hasselbeck posted a 30-42, 358, TD, INT line.

Kenny Britt helped bloat Hasselbeck’s numbers, hauling in 9-of-13 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. Nate Washington had another great PPR game, posting a 7-99-0 line.

Chris Johnson still isn’t quite right, but don’t fret Johnson owners. He’s still undergoing “training camp” of sorts. If you drafted him and did not expect this to happen, you did not do your homework. He’ll be fine by Week 4. See if the Johnson owner in your league is fed up and will give you Johnson for Mike Tolbert.

Four of Baltimore’s top five tacklers Sunday were defensive backs, that meant Tennessee was consistently bypassing two levels of defense and putting pressure on the back line. Not good.

Browns-Colts

Kerry Collins was better but not much. Meanwhile Peyton Hillis returned to form.

The big fantasy notes from this one: Delone Carter and Joseph Addai nearly split carries, but Carter didn’t make a catch and Adday had 4 for 37. Austin Collie was targeted 10 times but only pulled down three catches for 24 yards. He appears to be taking the most significant downgrade under Collins’ reign.

For Cleveland, more of what we expect for the receivers: Seven of the eight players who caught passes for the Browns had at least three targets and nobody had more than six.

Buccaneers-Vikings

Donovan McNabb looked a little more like the quarterback we should expect this year and LeGarrette Blount was the dude everyone expected when they drafted.

McNabb threw for 228 with no TDs and no INTs. He’ll mix in a few TDs and a few pics this year, but he should provide those kinds of numbers on Adrian Peterson’s (25-120-2, 2-21) team.

Blount rushed 13 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns, including a 27-yarder.

The biggest surprise in Tampa Bay was wide receiver Preston Parker breaking out for six catches 98 yards and earning seven targets, second only to Kellen Winslow on the team.

Mike Williams had just one “target” losing four yards on a catch. … I avoided Williams in all leagues this year. Williams was great last year, but in the offseason my thoughts drifted to another Tampa Bay Mike, Michael Clayton who emerged as a rookie superstar but couldn’t back it up. There’s no science, no research involved in that belief, just my ample gut’s feeling.

For you IDP players, Tampa Bay’s Mason Foster had 10 tackles, a sack and forced a fumble. Last week he had seven tackles and a TFL.

Bears-Saints

Jay Cutler and Drew Brees did what we expected, Cutler was decent and Brees was terrific.

Matt Forte continued his Swiss Army Knife role, catching 10 passes for 117 yards and rushing 10 times for 49 yards. He led the Bears with 14 targets. Devin Hester was second with nine but he only made one catch for 17 yards.

When you don’t have a No. 1 receiver, you just throw it to your best player (Forte) and let him do his thing.

Devery Henderson went for another long touchdown to finish with a 3-103-1 line. Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and David Thomas had more targets than Henderson, but weren’t as effective. Darren Sproles led the Saints with 10 targets and posted an 8-43-1. I play in a couple leagues that award a bonus at eight catches. Nice flex play from Sproles in PPRs and leagues like that.

Jaguars-Jets

Ugly blowout win for the Jets. Jacksonville gets all of the ugly.

Maurice Jones Drew went 18-88-0 and 3-19-0. Imagine the kind of season he might be having if there was any sort of passing threat? Jaguars quarterbacks tried to get the ball to Mike Thomas 10 times but there were seven misfires and Thomas went 3-29-0.

Blaine Gabbert got in at the end of the game and was  an efficient 5-of-6 for 52 yards. He also scrambled out of trouble, turned around and outran a group of defenders to turn what looked like a sure sack into a one-yard gain. The Gabbert era will start soon in Jacksonville and it has to be better than what we’re seeing now.

The Jets notables were Plaxico Burress, who was only targeted twice and did not have a catch, and Shonn Greene. Greene went 16-49-1 and caught a pass for six yards. It was hardly award-winning, but he outplayed LaDainian Tomlinson this week (6-8, 1-7). How long until Bilal Powell, who was inactive Sunday, makes an appearance?

Seahawks-Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger‘s leg injury looked painful. He came back into the game and didn’t show any weaknesses because of it.

Roethlisberger did appear to be back to form, throwing for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown. Mike Wallace was a beast, catching 8 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown was the second receiver catching 4-67-0. He had more targets than Emmanuel Sanders last week and twice as many this week. I would not be at all surprised if Brown emerged as the better option of the two.

Rashard Mendenhall was better this week (19-66-1), but watch out for Isaac Redman. Redman stole away a Mendy TD and went 10-49-1. He’s one of many sneaky waiver wire adds this week.

Seattle? Well, if you can’t say anything nice… OK, DB Kam Chancellor and LB Matt McCoy each had nine tackles. With Seahawks ineptitude on offense, the defense is going to have a lot of opportunities to get tackles.

Cardinals-Redskins

Rex Grossman wasn’t as great as our Week 2 QB projections said he’d be, but he still threw for 291 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Kevin Kolb also disappointed a bit, but put up solid (251, 2 TDs) numbers.

While they were in the same backfield Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower were ineffective. Away from each other, and with legit passing attacks taking the pressure off, both have proven to be effective. However, Hightower owners should be aware of Roy Helu‘s increased workload in this game. Helu went and impressive 10-74-0 and 3-38-0 for 112 total yards.

TE Fred Davis continued to see targets (6) and do something with them (6-86-1). Santana Moss (5-61-1 with 9 targets) and Jabar Gaffney (5-62-0, 8) also have good fantasy value in deep leagues.

Our Week 2 projections said Jeff King was going to be a good TE play this week. He wasn’t great but did rope in a touchdown and went 2-36-1.

In a lot of systems the player is less important than the position. Linebacker Stewart Bradley, a decent talent, stepped in for the injured Daryl Washington and posted seven tackles. Washington was one of the top LB IDPs last week.

Packers-Panthers

Yes, the World Champion Packers won, but its what Cam Newton did against their secondary that should have everyone picking their jaws up off the floor.

I’m going to say it right now, Newton is a superstar in the making. Last week I bid for him in every league where he was available, dropping Sam Bradford to pick him up in a couple. I paid $50 of my $200 FAAB for him in one keeper league.

He is one of only seven players in NFL history to throw for 400 yards or more in consecutive games. And has started his career with more yards passing than any quarterback in NFL history. Against Green Bay he completed 28-of-46 for 432 yards, one touchdown, one interception and rushed 10 times for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Newton’s emergence and the re-emergence of Steve Smith go hand-in-hand. Smith was targeted 13 times, caught six of them and posted 156 yards. Big season coming for both of these players.

While Newton’s presence chews into DeAngelo Williams‘ and Jonathan Stewart‘s rushing numbers, Stewart surprised by posting eight catches for 100 yards in the game.

For Green Bay, Jordy Nelson‘s 84-yard TD was his only catch. Greg Jennings was targeted eight times and came away with two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Like New Orleans, there are a lot of weapons in Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers can and will use them all.

James Starks (9-85-0, 3-30-0) outperformed Ryan Grant (6-25-0, 3-14-0) by a significant margin.

Desmond Bishop, an underrated linebacker at a couple sites in the preseason, posted a 10-tackle, 9 solos, sack performance.

Cowboys-49ers

Tony Romo reportedly busted a rib, but came back into the game and finished with a stellar 20-33-345-2-0 performance. He and backup Jon Kitna targeted Miles Austin all day and the receiver didn’t disappoint. He finished with a 9-143-3 line, easily one of the best receiver performances the NFL will see in 2011.

Jason Witten was also targeted a bunch and caught 7-102. Jesse Holley broke a 77-yarder and finished with a 3-96-0 line. Kevin Ogeltree was targeted once more than Holley and went 2-50. Neither player will have much value when Dez Bryant returns, but then again Austin reportedly wore out his hamstring running up and down the field.

The Dallas M.A.S.H. unit rolled into the running back ranks as well. Felix Jones went 9-25-0 and 1-5-0 before separating his shoulder. Rumor has it that rookie DeMarco Murray, not Tashard Choice, will take the largest share of work in Jones’s absence.

San Francisco is a mess, but also an enigma. They came into this game 1-0 and pushed Dallas to overtime. Frank Gore scored a TD on the ground but continued to suffer from the lack of a passing threat. Vernon Davis was targeted just twice and caught both for 18 yards. That’s not how you use your best passing option, Alex Smith.

Bengals-Broncos

Andy Dalton looks like he’s ready to play in the NFL and continues to make those Drew Brees comparisons stand up. He went 27-41 for 332 with two TDs and no INTs. He found Jerome Simpson for 4-136-0 and A.J. Green for 10-124-1. Dalton targeted Green 14 times.

Kyle Orton redeemed himself a bit, going 15-25 for 195 yards and a pair of passing TDs. Eric Decker emerged as a WR1 threat, posting a 5-113-2 line. When Brandon Lloyd comes back at full strength, the Broncos would be foolish to not try to open this thing up. I know it’s John Fox, but if you don’t have the horses, you can’t hitch up a wagon. Or something like that.

Although, Willis McGahee did emerge as a horse… Well, maybe a workhorse/mule. He rushed 28 times for 101 and a touchdown. I was in the camp drafting McGahee and avoiding Knowshon Moreno in the preseason. Moreno’s not an every down back in the NFL.

IDP: Wesley Woodyard, playing in place of an injured D.J. Williams, put up Williams-like numbers. He posted 13 tackles, 10 of them solo, with a tackle for a loss and a pass deflection. Like I said above, sometimes the system is just as important as the talent.

Texans-Dolphins

Hey there, Ben Tate, ask the Texans why they let Arian Foster even think about playing if he wasn’t 100%. Tate went 23-103-0 after Foster re-aggravted his hamstring. Matt Schaub targeted Owen Daniels more this week, and Daniels went 3-24-1.

Chad Henne was one of several disappointments from our offbeat projections this week, he rushed for 3-26, which we saw coming but he didn’t perform against a Texans secondary that might be improved from last year’s NFL-worst. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence… Let’s wait until next week.

Despite Henne’s ineffectiveness, Brandon Marshall resembled the receiver we remember from Denver, going 6-79-1.

Daniel Thomas was the biggest surprise to come out of this game. He went 18-107 and had a catch for 10 yards. He rushed at a 5.9 yards per carry clip. Check your waiver wire. I saw him available in at least one of my leagues on Sunday.

Chargers-Patriots

Tom Brady is looking like a record-breaking quarterback, throwing for a ridiculous 423 and three TDs, one week after throwing for more than 500 yards and setting a career high. In a game like that, Brady’s going to have a lot of favorite targets. The biggest news out of that group was Deion Branch‘s uptick. He was targeted 10 times and made eight catches for 129 yards. Brady said after the game he loves playing with Branch. But he targeted Wes Welker 11 times to Branch’s 10.

Danny Woodhead was situational this week and BenJarvus Green-Ellis posted a 17-70-1 line on the ground. That’s why I ran away from that situation screaming in drafts. Wait until Shane Verene learns the Patriots offense.

Brady’s otherworldly performance was not the only one in the contest. San Diego’s Vincent Jackson went bananas, catching 10 of 15 targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He made some exceptional plays and helped Philip Rivers post an excellent fantasy performance.

Another important note: Ryan Mathews was clearly the better back this week, going 12-64-1 on the ground and catching seven passes for 62 yards. He was targeted nine times, the same number as Mike Tolbert. Tolbert was supposed to get more work this week, but if Mathews performs like that don’t bet on it. Tolbert finished with nine rushes and 10 rushing yards but did make eight catches for 73 yards.

Eagles-Falcons

The Sunday night game was a dirty mess. Lots of helmet-to-helmet hits. Not cool. Mike Vick was concussed when tackled into a helmet-to-helmet meeting with a teammate. Matt Ryan took a helmet-to-helmet shot, Jeremy Maclin looked like he got knocked out cold for a few seconds on the turf.

Ryan did not miss any time. Maclin missed a few plays. Vick left in the third quarter, spitting blood after he bit his tongue, and did not return.

There is a lot to watch here. Concussions can be a day-to-day/questionable/GTD thing for fantasy owners.

On the fantasy side, there was a lot to talk about.

Despite the hit, Maclin stepped up huge with DeSean Jackson dinged (they were working on his forearm on the sidelines), catching 13 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. LeSean McCoy had 95 yards on the ground, scored twice and added four catches for 21 yards. Subbed in for Vick, Mike Kafka went an efficient 7-for-9 for 72 yards. Brent Celek, used mostly for his blocking in the Vick era, went 4-43-0 and was targeted a surprising seven times.

Matt Ryan didn’t throw for a lot of yards but did throw four touchdowns. He found Tony Gonzalez on two of those scoring plays. Gonzalez finished 7-83-2. Roddy White scored a touchdown but continues to disappoint PPR owners who drafted him in the first or second round, going 3-23-1, He was only targeted four times. Gonzalez was targeted nine times and Ryan looked to rookie Julio Jones (2-29) eight times.

Michael Turner, the No. 2 running back based on our running back projections, went 21-114-1 and caught a pass for 32 yards. He gashed the Eagles defense for chunks of yards.

Defensively, Falcons linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Curtis Lofton each posted 10-tackle games. Lofton added two pass deflections.

Despite that wall of words above, I’m sure I missed plenty. What injuries did I miss? What emerging players are you excited about?

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